According to a recent AP poll, almost half of Americans are extremely concerned about their personal data when making purchases with their credit or debit cards. With data breaches like those at Target and Home Depot in recent memory, they have every right to be, but there are ways to handle every situation to minimize the impact. Here's how to handle data theft:
Once a company realizes it has been hacked and performed a preliminary investigation, its next step is to notify consumers who were potentially affected. If you get one of these notifications don't ignore it. According to a study by consulting firm Javelin Strategy and Research, a third of people notified in these situations had their information stolen.
Monitor your card's activity for fraudulent activity. Most card issuers will proactively alert you, but call your issuer if you notice anything suspicious. Hacked companies typically offer fraud monitoring to victims. Take it. An added layer of protection never hurts.
Credit cards are typically offer the most protection when it comes to unauthorized charges. If your card is lost or stolen, report it immediately. If there are any fraudulent charges, the most your legally liable for is $50, but most companies offer zero liability protection to help limit customer's concerns.
Where debit cards are linked to a bank account, having it stolen can cause a lot of damage. The key here is prompt reporting. Informing your bank within two business days will hold you to that $50 limit, but after that liability increases. Most banks are usually lenient, but waiting more than 60 days after receiving your statement to report any suspicious activity will cost you.
After reporting an incident, your account will likely be put on a provisional hold while the bank conducts it's investigation. Conversely, fraudulent activity on a credit card holds up the issuer's assets, not yours.
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